The UCLA football team can improve off of their 3-9 2018 record if they take care of business at home, especially since it will be easier than going on the road.
Depsite a lousy season, the UCLA football team went 6-0 at the Rose Bowl in 2017, which is in stark contrast to their 0-6 away record (UCLA went 6-6 that year in the regular season). That dropped to 2-4 in 2018, but it was once again better than their road record (1-5). This resulted in a 3-9 record for the Bruins in Chip Kelly‘s first season.
So what will happen this year at the Rose Bowl? Lucky for UCLA, they will have a chance to once again have a better home record than away, especially with the competition that is coming to the Arroyo Seco this fall.
In 2019, the Bruins’ home slate consists of games against San Diego State, Oklahoma, Oregon State, Arizona State, Colorado, and Cal.
2018 Records of UCLA’s 2019 Home Opponents
- San Diego State: 7-6
- Oklahoma: 11-2
- Oregon State: 2-10
- Arizona State: 7-6
- Colorado: 5-7
- California: 7-6
The collective record of these six teams is 40-37. Not great, but it gets even worse when we take Oklahoma out of the equation. It seems like a smart bet to pick the Sooners to get the “W” in that Week 3 game, but other than that, UCLA should be able to claim victories against the five other teams which have a collective 2018 record of 28-35.
And then when you take into consideration the collective record of the Bruins’ Pac-12 opponents, that drops to 21-29. In addition to this, three of UCLA’s 2019 Pac-12 opponents finished 5th or worse in their division last year.
So can the Bruins take advantage of their home games? Let us answer that question by examining the home schedule starting with San Diego State. UCLA opens things up at the Rose Bowl in Week 2, and though the Aztecs went 7-6 last season, the Bruins cannot overlook them. This game will be closer than most will expect, but it should be a win for the Bruins.
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And what about Oklahoma? Well, not only did they reload at quarterback with the addition of Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts, but its Oklahoma, a team that has made the College Football Playoffs for the last two seasons. Consider this a loss, but a close one at that.
A few weeks later, UCLA welcomes back Oregon State to Pasadena, a team they have not played in three years. And yes, they are the same Oregon State, so this should be a dominating win (fingers crossed). Then comes Arizona State who will give the Bruins their toughest home matchup outside of Oklahoma. UCLA nearly took down the Sun Devils last year, so with a better focus (and hopefully better special teams play), the Bruins should get the “W.”
Then we have Colorado, who had a disappointing end to their season. Aside from the fact that UCLA almost had the Buffs last year, we have to take into consideration Colorado’s epic meltdown which resulted in a 7-game losing streak to end the season. A win for UCLA.
Then the Bruins end the season with Cal. UCLA dominated the Bears in Berkeley last season (a place where they historically do not do well), and I predict the same this season as Cal still has a myriad of problems they need to solve. Also, Cal does not do well at the Arroyo Seco; this should be a win. So if UCLA can take care of things at home (Oklahoma notwithstanding), they should go 5-1.
This coming season, the Bruins will not only be looking to get more than three wins, but they are also going to be in the hunt for a bowl berth. That means they need to get a victory in one of their road games against either Cincinnati, Washington State, Arizona, Stanford, Utah, or USC (a topic I will cover in a future Go Joe Bruin article). Though the road slate will be tough, I can see the Bruins winning (at minimum) two games.
But back to the original point, UCLA has to take advantage of their home schedule this fall if they want to show the nation they are more than a 3-9 record. If not, it is going to be another long, exhausting season in Pasadena.